April 14, 2005
If you thought that a Swede portraying Charlie Chan was slightly racist, wait until you see Colonel Tim McCoy playing what everyone in "Six-Gun Trail" insists on calling a "Chinaman." It is just a disguise to flush out a gang of jewel thieves, of course, but effective enough to fool even a longtime acquaintance like cafe singer Nora Lane. A Western solely because of McCoy's presence, this rather dour and stagebound crook melodrama suffers from the ennui that plagued most of Tim's Victory productions; even sidekick Magpie (Ben Corbett) quickly tires of the whole thing and begs his master to stop spouting Chan-style Chinese proverbs. Still, "Six-Gun Trail" does provide a good role for Nora Lane, a veteran B-Western heroine from Illinois, and a former stock company ingenue in St. Louis who had once starred opposite silent legend Fred Thomson. By the mid-1930s, however, Lane was only receiving offers from Gower Gulch, and she was so forgotten by 1948 that her suicide didn't even rate a mention in the trade-papers.